Recently I mentioned what I thought was a fairly self-evident concept: being a lawyer is actually pretty challenging.
If you missed it, here it is:
TL;DR version: law is high stakes, high stress, high pressure – and unless we find a way to change human nature entirely and the things people tend to care about, it’s probably going to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
That means law is hard. But it doesn’t mean that law is bad, because in fact…
Being a Lawyer is Awesome
Somewhere along the way, the concept of promoting wellness among lawyers has turned into the following messages:
- being a lawyer will damage you;
- lawyers are damaged people by nature;
- working hard as a lawyer is abhorrent and the principal cause of that damage;
- the only way to avoid that damage is to do less lawyering and more of basically anything else provided it makes you “feel good”.
This, young lawyers, is a load of nonsense.
Yes, of course at the extreme ends of the spectrum there are lawyerholics who are going to work themselves to the bone. And yes, there are some firms who whip their young graduates to work harder while the top dogs laugh maniacally in a mouth-frothing billing frenzy.
But, by and large, that’s not the case.
In fact, by and large, being a lawyer is a deeply satisfying, fulfilling career for the right people.
Why is that? It’s because it’s…
High Stakes, High Stress, High Pressure
Tell me, did you sigh with a deep sense of satisfaction after brushing your teeth this morning? Did completing that mammoth task really help you put a big tick on your day as a job well done?
Of course not, because that would be silly.
Take any person you admire and examine their life. Do you admire them because they strolled through easily, facing no adversity, and because their message in life is “I made it to the top easy peezy”? With rare exceptions, I’m guessing not.
In fact, we admire the grit, the determination, the work, and the ability to overcome challenges and difficulties.
Why is that? It’s because those are the things that show us we are stretching towards our potential and growing as people. Those are the things that demonstrate our capacity to aspire upwards. And because amazing accomplishments demand amazing people with amazing purpose-driven work ethics.
So Stop Demonizing Law
Could some parts of the legal career status quo change for the better? Probably.
But let’s be careful along the way that we don’t demonize lawyers and legal careers, throwing the baby out with the bathwater and convincing everyone that the only path to happiness is to work as little as humanly possible.
The truth is that you get to help people with massive personal and professional concerns, issues, problems and concepts. You are in a privileged and amazing role of trust and confidence with your clients. You have a sharp mind, attention to detail, analytical skills and you get to stretch them and use them every day.
And, generally speaking, you can earn a decent living doing it.
Yes it’s hard work – something that big SHOULD be hard work.
Law is awesome. Deal with it.